Initial Publication Date: December 10, 2020

Correlation Coefficient

This statistical vignette was developed by Dax Soule, Michelle Weirathmueller, Steve Juliano, and Diana Garcia Silva


The correlation coefficient is commonly used in various scientific disciplines to quantify an observed relationship between two variables and communicate the strength and nature of the relationship. This vignette will help build a student's understanding of correlation coefficients and how two sets of measurements may vary together.

Learning Objectives

  • Investigate the relationship between two datasets and quantify the extent to which they vary together
  • Determine when the correlation coefficient is and not a useful measure

Context for Use

This vignette can be used in either a single lab or lecture session and should take between 15 and 20 minutes for introductory or intermediate level students.

The vignette has been implemented in conjunction with the EDDIE Climate Change Module and utilized in both lab and lecture for the introductory Environmental Science courses at Queens College (CUNY) and at Loyola University of Chicago and is suitable for use as a stand alone activity or as a supplement to where the relationship between two variables is of interest.

Suggested Modules

Lake Ice PhenologyLake MixingLake ModelingStream DischargeWater Quality

Description and Materials

View the PowerPoint file and the instructor notes to help engage students during the presentation of the vignette.

StatVignette01-Correlation_06_15_2020.pptx (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 9.2MB Sep21 20)

Click to view